Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Woolly Week

 Mr Lamb took junior lamb down town to meet his cousins.  It's all part of the Campaign for Wool festival this week, where everything woolly is celebrated.  From cartoon sheep at the Chelsea Design Centre to knitting craft workshops  and displays throughout the city showing the diverse uses of wool.

The week began with sheep and male models tripping up and down the "sheep walk" in Saville Row.  Both showing off their beautiful woollen outfits.  Friday is your chance to show off your woolly style on Woolly Hat Day wear your best or quirkiest woolly hat, all in the name of supporting the Mission to Searfarers Charity

Monday, 5 October 2015

Art in the Kitchen

An Italian pizza recreated by a French chef, add a generous helping of comic skill and the disaster of the kitchen, then you have one of the funniest events in the Merge Festival.  

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Ted gets moon-eyed

… we had a lunar eclipse last week, a very special one, as the Harvest Moon also became a “blood” moon. If you were lucky enough to be in a place with little or no light pollution, like Scotland, and you’d been geeky enough to take your high powered telescope with you then you would have had a spectacular view that would have made it well worth getting up at 3am (you know who you are Mandy).

So what makes it a blood moon Ted? Well for a start it glows red, and the reason for this complicated, but in a nutshell, dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon at mid-eclipse when we are between it and the sun and bingo 40 watt red light-bulb effect.

The Harvest Moon is the moon closest to the autumn equinox. It’s been celebrated by Chinese and South East Asian cultures for many centuries, pretty much like our own European traditions of Harvest Festivals, where we celebrate the end of the harvest and the abundance (hopefully) of Nature’s bounty to provide our winter supplies. Chinatown in Soho is a great place to go for the Harvest (Happy) Moon festival as they really get into the swing with little parades, lots of lanterns, and most importantly, this is the only time of year when you can buy fresh mooncakes.

Making (or nowadays buying them from the shop ready-made and nicely packaged) and sharing mooncakes is one of the traditions of the festival. The Chinese believe that the round shape of the cakes signifies completeness and unity, and thus sharing them with friends and family during the festival completes the circle and unifies us all for another year.

The Doll loves mooncakes and so she took no convincing at all to hotfoot it down to Chinatown and return with the goods. There are 2 main types of filling, the red bean paste and lotus paste with egg yolks. I am not so keen on the lotus paste and egg ones as I think it reminds me of my rather unsuccessful attempt to eat another stalwart of Chinese cuisine, a 1000 year old egg … erg …

The red bean paste one was delicious, the pastry is soft and biscuit like, the filling sweet and earthy and nutty all at the same time – the overall package is what I think we’d describe as “toothsome” … and it was reddish … so hence it kinda sorta looked like a blood moon.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

An Outdoor Exhibition

You can enjoy an exhibition and the sunshine all at the same time.

A unique glimpse behind the scenes of the performances and rehearsals of the students at the Royal College Opera By the River is fabulous photo essay by photographer Edmond Terakopia.  A selection of 62 images taken over a period of seven months that captures the intimate and revealing moments of the orchestra, singers and production team as they develop and perform Albert Herring by Benjamin Brittien.

On until 11 October 2015.

Friday, 2 October 2015

An Odd Thing to Remember

It's sixteen metres long and made of portland stone.  The Southwark Needle on London Bridge blends in with the environment to the point where it is easy to walk by barely noticing it among the tall buildings that surround it.   What's the point?  Well it marks the approximate spot where the heads of executed traitors were dipped in tar and impaled on tall spikes.  A  delightful 16th century custom.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Men at Work

They work around the clock on cross rail. This section is at Tottenham Court Road.  

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Monday, 28 September 2015

Ancient Rites

Yep its a bunch of sheep that trip tropped across London Bridge yesterday, much to the amusement of several American tourists that were passing by.

Quirky, but it has it roots in hard won rights back in the 12th century.  The freemen and liverymen were allowed to bring their produce to market without having to pay the onerous taxes of the day.

For the Woolmen  this meant they had the right to drive their sheep to market, crossing London Bridge (the only bridge at the time) without having to pay the hefty wool taxes.  Nowadays it is purely ceremonial.  Every year they dress up in their robes and march a dozen (or so) sheep back and forth across the bridge.  Its a fun day and a chance for the company to remind the public where meat and wool comes from whilst raising money for their charitable activities.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Ted is reunited ...

… with an old girlfriend and the Doll didn't mind in the least now that you ask (yes you did I heard you).  There is a great Cypriot restaurant in Camden town in what was originally known as the “Peloponnese Triangle” due to its large Greek and Cypriot communities. While a lot of these communities have moved to north London (looking for sun presumably) Daphne’s remains and provides some of the best Greek Cypriot cuisine in town.

So why the “reuniting” Ted?  Well Daphne’s closed down temporarily for building works and it took a lot longer to complete than ever imagined, and only relatively recently did they fire up their charcoal grills again in the refurbished handsome restaurant, where naturally they retained all the interesting historical photographs.

The family behind Daphne's are long-time residents of Camden. The woman behind Daphne’s is Anna (now the truth comes out Ted) who ran the restaurant for many years and created a really warm and welcoming atmosphere that along with the excellent food accounts for why about 70% of their customers return again and again. Today it’s son Nicholas who runs the restaurant and he is every bit as warm and welcoming and knowledgeable on the cuisine and passionate about Cyprus and Greece as his Mum. 

Cyprus has been invaded many times over the centuries and as a result while the core of the cuisine remains Greek and Turkish it also shows the considerable influences of Byzantine, French, Italian, Catalan, Ottoman and Middle Eastern cuisines.

I ordered a bottle of soft juicy plummy cherry and very moreish Agiorghitiko red wine from Nemea in the Peloponnese in Greece, and we perused the menu while nibbling fresh nutty marinated green olives.
I went for Greek sausages on the charcoal grill for starters and they were all meaty and seasoned and smoky, just like they should be.  The Doll had stuffed aubergine and pronounced it delicious. I couldn’t resist the Kleftiko which is lamb slow baked in the oven with lemon and herbs and onions, until it literally falls off the bone and this one just melted in my mouth. The Doll went for lamb souvlaki from the grill and ate every bit of it (and there was a lot) and all her spinach on the side and sat smiling and looking replete. Sadly we were too full for desert.  I finished the evening with a snifter of the famous Cyprus brandy – 5 Kings.
There is a reason why we all return to Daphne’s time and time again – next time you’re in the Camden pop in and discover why all for yourself. Go at lunchtime and the chances are you'll that you'll meet the lovely Anna as well.

Friday, 25 September 2015


A child clutching a teddy gazes at the great edifice of HM Treasury.  Captured in the reflections of the rain puddles in the great courtyard.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A Hole in the Ground

A hole in the ground it maybe, but it is a pretty important  one and an expensive one as well. (£42 billion).  OK not all of that price is just this hole, that is the cost of all of Crossrail.  This patch is Farringdon.  This was where the tunnelling from Crossrail and Thameslink tunnels met.  They weren't too bad in their calculations only a 100 ft out, so this station will have the longest platform as a result, 350 ft instead of the usual 250ft.

The entire project is projected to finish in 2019, linking east and west London making commuter times faster for thousands of Londoners.  It promises the time travelling to Heathrow for most journeys will half. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A Medieval Gem

It was nearing the end of the weekend of open house when we were handed an information sheet of late entries to the weekend.  Only one was close enough for us to get there to make it for last entry time.  We were not disappointed.

The Maughan Library is the main research library for Kings College on the Strand Campus.  The 19th century neo-Gothic building was acquired by the university in 2001.  Previously it had been the Public Records Office, a place where many precious public documents had been stored in fire proof cells, especially during the war years when documents as valuable as the Magna Carta where saved by virtue of the protection offered here.

The earliest building known to stand on this site was the Domus Conversorum (the House of Converts).  The house was established in 1232 to provide a sanctury for Jews who converted to Christianity  following  the 1290 Edict of Expulsion of Edward 1.  The following year work began on the attached chapel.

In 1317 Edward 111 assigned the House and chapel to be used to store the rolls and records of the  Court of Chancery.

The chapel underwent major renovations during the 17th and 18th centuries and demolition in 1895. All that remains is an arch which now resides in the garden, three funerary monuments and a beautiful mosaic tiled floor that fem part of the lib ray known as the Weston Room.
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